This paper sets out an examination of natural disaster amongst small island developing states (SIDS), and presents a framework for assessing the interaction of global pressures and local dynamics in the production of human vulnerability. Change at the global level is found to be a source of new opportunities as well as constraints on building local resilience to natural disaster. Much depends on the orientation of the state in global economic and political systems. The United Nations is a key global actor with relevance to shaping vulnerability in island states, and the impact of the UN Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction is reviewed. It is concluded that this is a critical time for SIDS which must contend with ongoing developmental pressures in addition to growing pressures from risks associated with global environmental change and economic liberalisation that threaten their physical and economic security.
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